EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 12, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to a father-daughter team from Methuen that has been devotedly following the UMass Lowell hockey team on its run for a national championship.

Methuen’s Sebastian Bongiorno has been season ticket-holder for the UMass Lowell Riverhawks for nearly two decades. His love for the hockey team has passed on to his daughter, Danielle, who graduated in September from the university with a degree in education.

This year has been a good one for Lowell hockey fans as the team made a run for the national championship. The Riverhawks played Yale last night in the semifinals of the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament in Pittsburgh. And the Bongiornos were there.

So, too, were a lot of Lowell fans. But the Bongiornos almost did not make the trip. Danielle has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments since her diagnosis last October. She only recently got clearance from her doctors for the Pittsburgh trip.

“Danielle’s doctors said she could go to Pittsburgh,” Sebastian told sports editor Bill Burt. “It was incredible news. We have to be back (by Sunday) because she has an important bone marrow biopsy on Monday to hopefully confirm the leukemia is in remission.”

“This is a real special trip,” Danielle said. “I can’t believe I’m here. It’s the first trip I’ve taken in a long time. I’m at the Frozen Four. ... But the best part is I’m here with my father.”

Sports can be a character building experience for those who play. But it can also be life-affirming for those who are mere spectators. We saw that as New Englanders’ emotions poured forth when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. We see it again on a smaller scale as the bond between a father and daughter is strengthened by their shared love of a hockey team.

The Riverhawks fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take the game into overtime. But Yale scored the game-winner and will play for the national championship tomorrow night.

Danielle is winning her fight against leukemia. Best wishes to her and her family as she faces this challenge.

JEERS to money-grubbers in the New Hampshire Legislature, where a committee is considering a bill to end free admission to state parks for senior citizens.

Supporters of the bill under consideration in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee want people 65 or older to pay the same day-use fees as other adults, usually $4 or $5, or buy season’s passes for $20 each, a third of the usual cost for such a pass. They say the measure could raise $320,000 annually.

“We cannot continue to expect our parks to be self-sufficient if we continue to identify groups that don’t have to pay anything to enjoy the wonder and beauty of our parks,” said state Rep. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, the bill’s sponsor.

Among those who currently “don’t have to pay anything to enjoy the wonder and beauty of our parks” are lawmakers, the Executive Council and the governor’s staff.

Legislators should consider eliminating the freebie for themselves but leave the seniors alone. It is difficult enough for low-income seniors to get by as it is without the state raking them for a few dollars to enjoy a day in the park.